Monday, November 05, 2007

Stross on Japan

Charlie Stross went to Japan and wrote an essay ...
They've got our future, damn it.

It's not the shiny future of jet packs and food pills — oh no, that's not what Japan is about. Nevertheless, they've got it and they're living in it, damn them. They've got express trains that run on time and accelerate so fast they push you back into your seat like an airliner on take-off. They've got skyscrapers with running lights, looming out of the sodium-lit evening haze — a skyline just like the famous nighttime scene from Blade Runner except for the shortage of giant pyramids (and they're building one of those out in Tokyo bay). And they shave their cats.

In the future we will all have shaved cats. And six story high pornography boutiques that sell Hello Kitty! novelty toys on the ground floor. And 200mph super-express trains blasting between arcologies through a landscape scorched by the waste heat of a hundred million air conditioning units. And beer vending machines on street corners. And skyscrapers cheek-by-jowl with temples that are modern reconstructions of buildings dating back to the eighth century (said reconstructions only slightly older than the Christopher Wren iteration of St Paul's Cathedral).

Sounds keen. It's crowded and weird and they are (sort of) in a place we'll be at in a few hundred years. Not a place I want to live in, or at least not forever, but a mighty fine place to visit for a few months or years. Caveat; I know no more - and probably less - about Japan than you do. I was stationed in Okinawa for 19 months a long long time ago but that just means I know a little bit and I probably have that much all wrong. Okinawa bears the same resemblance to mainland Japan that Key West does to New York City. If Key West was invaded by acquisitive New Yorkers in 1609 and who then never let the Key Westians forget they were part of New York but would never be New York.

So .. Japan is our future. We really need cheap space launch so the malcontents and borderers can have their frontier.
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